Learning Afresh about Jesuit Ideals

The December Session of JESCOL for the school staff was held in the Loyola Auditorium of St. Joseph’s Pre- University College on the 17th and 18th of the month The seminar was a brief but effective initiation to the Jesuit way of life. It introduced the staff to the fundamental concepts and insights about the life, and teachings of their founder Saint Ignatius and the relentless effort of the Jesuit priests over the centuries to create a fair, compassionate, equitable, and egalitarian society for the people of the world. Every year the school organizes JESCOL seminars for the staff or the “collaborators” to familiarize themselves with the noble but simple ideology of the Order that drives the fathers of the Society of Jesus to do the wonderful work that they do.

The training began with a prayer service that was serene and soulful, beseeching the Almighty to be the guiding light throughout the seminar. A brief message, soon after, from the principal of the host college,Fr. Roshan Pereira SJ, marked “collaboration “as the keynote of the two-day seminar. He also mentioned how important it was for teachers to understand the Jesuit values to fulfill the Ignatian dream, to kindle their hearts first before passing on the fire of “ Majis” to others.

• The very first speaker of the day was Fr. Balaraju SJ who delivered a very engaging and interesting historical account of the life and works of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founding father of the Society of Jesus.

• After a short Tea Break, Ms. Mini Saji, head of the Department of Humanities of the Saint Joseph’s Pre- University College took us on an informative tour, introducing us to the great Jesuits priests the order had produced to date starting from Saint Francis Xaviers to Father Stan Swami, whose lives were testaments for enormous social changes brought about by their selfless service of the downtrodden. The lecture ended with a fun Quiz to drive the point home.

• The next speaker was Fr. Albert Anthony SJ from the Physics Department of the college. In his usual humorous and engaging style, he spoke on the topic “ Jesuits and the option for the poor”. He went on elaborating how serving the poor, lending them a helping hand to come up in society is at the heart of Jesuit ideology. He informed the attendees about the remarkable progress the projects in Pannur and Manvi had made over the years to their absolute delight. He reminded them that nobody in the society is “ useless” but they are merely “ used less”. At the end of the speech, the members of the seminar observed two minutes of silence to pay homage to Fr. Lawrence Pinto SJ who had passed away the day before.

• The next speaker, Fr. Prashanth D’Souza SJ, spoke on “Discernment” and how a simple choice shaped by reason can guarantee a better life for everyone, how one can make a positive change by just stopping to look at himself as a victim and taking charge of his destiny. After the tea break, Father Prashanth guided the attendees to put the act of discernment to the test through a simple exercise that helped them to relax and calm their minds.

The day began with a prayer, again with the explicit purpose of God being our guide and mentor.

• The first speaker of the day, Fr. Joseph D’Mello SJ introduced the attendees to The Jesuit Governance for their understanding of the administrative machinery and how it works seamlessly for its proper functioning. He lucidly explained the administrative structure of the Jesuit Order and the line of authority behind its running. He also touched upon the various work going on in Mundgod, Kalburgi, Manvi, Dharwad, Harihar, Hasan, and Mangalore.

Fr. Swebert D’Silva SJ, the next speaker spoke about the basic tenets of Jesuit Education and also introduced the members of the group to the concept of IPP or The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm. He explained how Jesuit education is world-affirming, assisting in the total formation of each individual, preparing him for a full and meaningful life He noted the real purpose of education is to make the learner a better human being and not just turning him into a mere intellectual monster. Jesuit education instills in him the gift of discernment, the ability to know what is good and what is not, and nurture empathy and compassion in his heart. A nation cannot prosper if all the citizens are not in the game of progress and Jesuit pedagogy strives to do just that. He explained how education in Ignatian philosophy is more of a “Spiritual Exercise” than an intellectual one as it includes the interplay of experience, reflection, and action in the teaching-learning process. This alone has all the power to transform the society we live in into a much better one.

• After the lunch break, Fr. Joseph D’Mello SJ spoke on “Collaboration”. He emphasized how collaboration or working with others is the cornerstone of any long-lasting endeavor.
He elaborated on the principles of Jesuits collaboration and expressed his wish to see more and more collaborators taking leadership roles in Jesuit institutions.

Finally, Father D’Mello gave the following questions to work on before the attendees took a tea break:
1. How can we grow in the spirit of collaboration in our unit?
2. What are the blocks for collaboration?

The session ended with a lively presentation shared by the attendees addressing the questions put forward to them by Fr. D’Mello, a photograph of the group and a certificate to mark the completion of the programme. However, the key takeaway was the transformation in each of the participants, the multifold bonding between members of the group, the knowledge of the ideology of St Ignatius and his followers, and the enthusiasm to be collaborators in sharing the vision and mission of the Jesuits in the days to come.

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